Legislative FAQ, courtesy of NAfME 

Here are a few issues that have come up for others as they help us lobby for music education.

1. Why can’t NAfME let us know sooner about important issues like this?

We let members know just as soon as we know information. Congress has certain procedures for doing things and schedules are often not publicized prior to events happening. Our lobbyists must stay in frequent contact with House and Senate staffers in order to be made aware of certain events. Often our lobbyists find out “at the last minute” and then so do we. It’s never our intent to request a rush job on something but many times, it’s unavoidable. 

2. Why can’t NAfME call me personally to request my help? After all, I am a dues paying member and a advocate for music education.

We try to call our members for help whenever possible but in some cases, we are contacting so many people that personal phone calls would not accomplish the task. We are also sometimes handicapped by the difficulty of contacting people at work. We don’t expect teachers to leave class to talk with us and an email can explain the situation more thoroughly than a 2 minute phone call or a voice mail. Of course we are always more than willing to talk with a member and help them in any way we can.

3. Why doesn’t an appropriation bill have a number during the mark up phase?

Tradition dictates that appropriations bills do not get numbers assigned until all final markups are done. This is to reduce the outside interference from constituents, lobbyists and others.

4. I called my representative/senator and they don’t know anything about this. What should I do?

Offer to send them information (contact us for help) and suggest getting together for a meeting to clarify the issues. It’s also important for emphasize that you are a CONSTITUENT and that you are concerned about the state of music education for all students. We have TONS of information on our web site to help you become armed with good information to share.

5. My congressman is unable to meet with me. What should I do?

Offer to send them information and follow up with email and letters as appropriate. You should consider making several contacts over the next several months in order to keep music education issues in the forefront of their minds. It is always appropriate to call up and ask what the status of your request is. You can also ask if the congressman supports music education and what additional information you can provide. Working with our national congress has to be an ongoing process. We hope you can make a habit out of calling, emailing, writing and face to face meetings to keep music education issues strong

6. Should I mention NAfME when I make my contacts?

It is more important to mention that you are a constituent, a voter, a teacher of music, a parent of students in our schools, etc. You want to make sure that your congressman knows you live in his/her state/district and that you have a vested interest in keeping music education strong in our schools. NAfME can be mentioned as your supporting national organization but your state and local connections are more important. So the answer is yes, but with restraint. 

7. Are there other important facts that I can use in my conversations with members of Congress?

Yes, try these if they seem appropriate during the disscussion..

  • This past year 15 % of our secondary schools and more than 35 % of our elementary school schools lacked full time music teachers. 
  • Millions of American children – anywhere from 9 to 27 million children – were denied the benefits of a complete music education
  • We need at least 11,000 new music teachers each year to replace teachers that leave due to retirement or burnout
  • We fill about half of these positions each year. We’re losing the battle!
  • Average national student/music teacher ratio: 380 students/ for one music teacher – other secondary teachers average 112-150 per student/teacher ratio

8. Anything else?

Yes, always bring in personal examples from your own experience in teaching. How a student has benefited from music, or how the community is a better place in which to live are things that can affect your congressman as a constituent in his/her state or district. It might also be important to discuss how music students do academically in comparison to overall student population. If you have personal stats about how well students in your program do, by all means, share them with the congressman or senator.